Film critics were both shocked and disgusted after receiving press kits for the upcoming movie, A Belfast Story. The story, reported by the Daily Mail, noted that the press kits contained questionable items such as balaclavas, duck tape, nails, and sensational news clippings.
Used properly press kits (PKs) are a great way to break through the media clutter. They essentially assist the media in understanding a story. Typically, PKs consist of press releases, biographies, pictures, and reviews. More creative PKs often feature branded “swag” to help peak the media’s interest.
Michael Levine author of Guerrilla P.R. 2.0 recommends that excellent press kits embrace two key elements: (1) tell a good story and (2) incorporate some form of originality. In examining the Belfast Story’s press kit, how did the creator’s miss the mark?
Know Your Public
Instead of creating interest in the film, the press kit did not take into consideration the history of Belfast. Did the press kit tell a story? Yes. Was it original? Perhaps. However, the message of the press kit was ambiguous and the key publics interpreted the contents as offensive.
In compiling any press kit you must know you publics and your story must be crystal clear. Remember that press kits help clarify your story, not cause confusion or increase ambiguity. The elements of the press kit should be carefully selected and have no negative connotations. In considering the Belfast Movie’s press kit two elements, the balaclava and nails are often associated with crime and terrorism. Criminals often use masks or balaclava’s to hide their identity. Nails, while innocent by themselves undertake new meaning when combined with the other elements of the press kit.
PR professionals must always consider Audience Theory. In essence the audience (i.e., publics) ultimately impose meaning on the media. The creators of A Belfast Story had a very specific and positive story contained within the press kit; however, the publics and movie critics had their own interpretation of the story.